Tony Soprano would love a racket like this

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Don’t weep yet for demoted health director

By Ben Carlson

Want the real news that surfaced from last Thursday night’s health board meeting?
No, it isn’t that the director got over and kept his job, albeit on a part-time basis.
Instead, it’s that despite all the bluster the judge-executive who wanted him fired could muster, the board doesn’t have the ability to fire the director.
Oh, it can vote to fire him but that becomes reality only if the decision isn’t vetoed by the state health board, re: Dr. Steve Davis, its acting director.
I probably should have known that before this transpired; after all, it is in the state regulations on how local health boards are forced to operate. Nevertheless, it’s just one more example of how state health officials have stacked the deck to ensure that, no matter what the people say or demand, nothing, including taxpayers, will stand in the way of their agendas or paychecks.
It’s nothing short of a protection racket that would make Tony Soprano and his ilk smile.
It’s frankly bad enough that health, library and fire boards have no public accountability. They can raise our taxes, sell property, buy property and build unnecessary buildings without so much as a public hearing. And to top it off, they never, ever have to stand election.
Can anyone else taste the bile?
But it gets even worse when state government honks who also have no direct public accountability can overrule a decision as basic as firing a director who clearly has lost the board’s support.
On my life I cannot figure out why someone, anyone doesn’t challenge this protection racket in court, and get the power to tax us — at the point of a gun, if necessary — placed back with the people we’ve elected to do so.

Speaking of a racket …
Don’t shed too many tears just yet for the newly demoted health director, whose hours have been reduced to 22.5 a week.
Oh, it won’t be easy for him in the short term. From what we’ve been told, he’ll have to work each of those hours in Anderson County instead of logging them from his home in Frankfort — or any of the far-flung locations across the country he visits regularly on the taxpayer’s behalf.
And unless the state health racketeers have their own rules on benefits, too, he’ll fall short of the 100 hours other state employees must work to receive them.
But I’ll place the odds at no worse than 90-to-10 that the director won’t get far into his 90-day probationary period before giving taxpayers here one last mental single-digit salute and leaving for a cushy state health job in Frankfort.
My sources (and wouldn’t curious board member Joy Hoskins just love to know who they are, or at least if I’m related to a nurse there with the same last name!) tell me that the day after the director had his hours cut, a previously closed state health department position suddenly reopened.
Coincidence? Oh, probably, but one can’t help but wonder about the job just happening to open up at such an opportune time.
Guess it pays to have friends in high places — or better yet in Frankfort.

Speaking of can’t help …
Reducing the director to part-time isn’t going to put but a small dent in the health department’s budget problem.
More solutions, including leasing out a portion of that building to offset the mortgage or even making the entire facility a Monday-Wednesday-Friday part-time operation, would go much further into make the department solvent.

Speaking of solutions …
The fiscal court appears to be heading toward a good solution to solve its recycling issues.
The rub appears to be in whether city residents will have theirs picked up while county residents have to haul theirs to collections points.
I live in the city and have mine collected — when my wife remembers to haul that stupid blue bin to the curb on the right day each month. Still, I hate having that stupid overflowing bin gobbling up space in my garage that could be put to better use for my hunting and fishing gear.
I’d much rather drive my load of laundry soap bottles, etc. to a collection point and get rid of it whenever the mood strikes.